XI. B. Reasonable Steps to Inform Parties of Intent or Action

Effective 10/1/90

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XI. B. Reasonable Steps to Inform Parties of Intent or Action

Effective 10/1/90

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PURPOSE

Reasonable steps to inform a person about an action that is about to, or just has taken place gives that person an opportunity to take responsibility and/or present alternatives to the action which could negate the need for the action, or to appear and contest the action.

 

LEGAL BASE

1.Title 22, MRSA §4023 (4) requires the Department prior to or on initiating short-term emergency services, to take reasonable steps to notify [inform] a custodian that the child will receive or is receiving the services.
2.Title 22 MRSA §4033 (2) requires that if there is to be a request for a preliminary protection order, the petitioner shall, by reasonable means, attempt to notify [inform] the parents and custodians of his intent to request that order and of the time and place at which he will make the request.  This notice is not required if the petitioner includes in the petition a sworn statement of his belief that:
a.The child would suffer serious harm during the time needed to notify [inform] the parents or custodians; or
b.Prior notice to [informing] the parents or custodians would increase the risk of serious harm to the child or the petitioner.

 

PRACTICE STANDARDS

1.When the Department is contemplating providing short-term emergency services, attempts will be made to inform:
a.The custodial parents.
b.Relatives who have been the primary caretaker for at least the past month at the time of the request for short-term emergency services.

 

2.When the Department intends to request a preliminary protection order attempts will be made to inform:
a.Legal parents.
b.Putative father, if it appears he will be deprived of his family relationship with the child, if any.
c.Relatives who have been the primary caretaker for at least the past month at the time of the filing of the request, and who will be interested parties (see Interested Party, Subsection E).

 

3.When the Department intends to file a child protection petition, attempts will be made to inform:
a.Legal parents.
b.Relatives who have been the primary caretaker for at least the past month at the time of the filing of the request, and who will be interested parties (see Interested Party, Subsection E).

 

4.Reasonable means or steps include:
a.Immediate attempts to contact the person by telephone or in person at his home, place of employment, relative homes, or other places he may frequent.
b.Leaving messages and/or notes in these contact places for the person to contact the Department immediately including the 24 hour phone number.  The Statewide Intake Unit will be informed by the usual procedures for special instructions in specific cases when attempts are being made to inform these persons.  The nature of the reason for the Department’s involvement will:
(1)Be disclosed if it appears clear that the individual with whom the message is left is aware of the circumstances, and that this would enhance the likelihood of the person contacting the Department.
(2)Not be disclosed if it appears that such disclosure would violate the person’s privacy.

 

5.These attempts will continue, in the time frame specified, unless in the case of notifications of intent to petition the child would be seriously harmed in his current circumstances by delay of action.

 

6.These attempts will not be made to inform these persons of intent to file a petition if the worker has reason to believe, from evidence he has gathered that:
a.The child would suffer serious harm during the time needed to inform the parents or custodians; or
b.Informing the parents or custodians would increase the risk of serious harm to the child or the petitioner.

The evidence must be from worker’s own observation, and can be supplemented by information from other persons who can be located and brought forth to testify at a hearing.

 

7.If the worker has reason to believe, from evidence as in above, that informing these persons is likely to result in risk of harm to persons other than the child or the petitioner (e.g., a parent or a potential witness), law enforcement will be contacted (see Law Enforcement, subsection Y).

 

 

TIME FRAMES FOR ATTEMPTS TO INFORM PERSONS REGARDING

CHILD PROTECTION ACTION

 

 

Short Term

Emergency

Services

Request for

Preliminary

Protection Order

Petition for

Protection Order

 

Minimum time to delay before taking action unless delay would result in risk of serious harm.

 

  hour

 

2 hours

 

N/A

 

Minimum time to delay before taking action unless delay would result in jeopardy

 

1 hour

 

N/A

 

24 hours

 

When to being attempts to inform.

 

Immediately

 

Immediately

 

At least 24 hours prior to filing

 

Frequency and duration of attempts to inform.

 

At least 3 times during the first 24 hours, at least twice during remaining 48 hours.

 

At least hourly during first 4 hours; at least twice during next 48 hours; at least daily thereafter until the hearing on the preliminary protection order unless service made or case continued.

 

At least 3 times, from the time of decision to filing up until the filing; at least daily thereafter for 1 week, unless service made.